SAT Subject Tests are hour-long content based tests which allow you to demonstrate just how awesome you are in a given subject. There are 20 Subject Tests in all and unlike the SAT where you have to complete all three sections, you get to choose which Subject Tests you would like to take. Subject Tests are offered on the same dates as the SAT and you can take up to three tests in one sitting.
You can check out a complete list of all Subject Tests on the College Board website here.
Now that you fully understand what a Subject Test, let’s move on to the bigger question.
Should you take one?
The answer is an easy “yes” when you plan on applying to a highly selective college. If you review their admission requirements, a lot of these schools will require or recommend Subject Tests. Pay close attention to the fine print though as some of them will recommend specific subjects depending on your major.
For example, engineering applicants to Johns Hopkins University are strongly encouraged to submit two SAT subject tests: Mathematics Level 2 and one of the sciences. Applicants for Lehigh University’s combined BA/MD degree program are “strongly encouraged” to take Mathematics Level 1 or Level 2 and Chemistry.
So, in some cases, you do have to be very strategic about which tests you take.
But what if a college doesn’t strongly encourage them? What if they just recommend taking a Subject Test? What if they say they will only use them if the scores enhance your chances for admission?
In my opinion, you always want to go beyond the basic requirements. So while there is a difference between “strongly encourage” and “recommend”, in either case the college is making a reference to them as something they like to see in their applicants’ files. When a college is telling you what they want to see, you should listen.
And if a school is only going to use them in situations where they help you, well, you’ve got nothing to lose except for a couple hours on a Saturday morning.
In today’s competitive applicant pool, especially at the most selective colleges, you can’t afford not to put together the strongest application possible. SAT Subject Tests can and will play a role in that so review the requirements for your schools and take a couple tests in your strongest subjects. Do well enough and they may just help your chances.
If you want some help and guidance on your college search and application process, contact me today to set up an appointment for a free consultation. If you’re in the local area, check out my FREE college planning workshops coming up this spring in Cheshire and Southbury.